Friday, August 07, 2009

Finally, a blog post about these out of control Town Hall meetings

Every time I see a clip of a town hall meeting descending into chaos I want to blog about it. But, over the last couple weeks as I've tried to do so, all I end up with is a half written post and a head that hurts from thinking through the problem.

I had an especially clever idea, where I was going to compare these out of control town hall meetings to the calm Gates / Crowley / Obama beer meeting. Here was an issue that has just as much potential for explosion as health care, yet got diffused in many ways by rational discussion. I was going to suggest that to counter the upcoming recess rallies, folks hold beer round tables. The idea would be to get folks you disagree with together, and actually listen to each other. Sure, at the end of the day you may have to agree to disagree on some points, but you could still learn from each other.

But, try as I may, I couldn't quite get that post written.

I think I've finally figured out why: on one level, I don't disagree with these people. If I thought for one second that the US was going to sink into communism, or that the government was going to euthanize my grandparents, you better believe I'd be screaming and yelling. The big difference between us: I don't. I think the health care bill sounds like a quite reasonable way to attack the problem of health care. Folks on the far left will be upset because it's not single payer, and folks on the far right will be upset because it does involve the government - but in general, it seems like a perfectly American way to resolve this nearly intractable problem.

But still, if I thought that America was going to go down the tubes, a little screaming and yelling may be in order. How many folks on the left, knowing what they know now about Iraq war, would have done a little more screaming and yelling back in the day?

Granted, some people at these meetings are just there to disrupt them. Heck, the Democrats could be passing a bill to outlaw the killing of kittens, and they'd be against it. However, I think there's a good chunk of people at these meetings who absolutely believe these whacky theories that are being thrown out there. They are genuinely afraid and angry.

My take away from this, then, is that anyone who wants to see this health care initiative pass should be focusing on how they can educate all these terrified constituents. I'd be taking a close look at the message and perhaps more importantly, who's delivering it. I don't know what the answer is - put the bill in comic book form, create a series of dioramas, get Larry The Cable Guy to explain it, who knows. But, I don't see how playing phone games helps. And please, dear lord, don't just ignore these demonstrations as Senator Schumer has suggested. (Ahem, may I humbly suggest creating an English Translation of the legislation.)

One final point: I think the entire Republican base owes the Dixie Chicks an apology. Don't you see, political descent and criticizing the president can be quite patriotic, No?

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